Men's Eagles
13 10
Samoa
10 7
Men's Eagles  @ ANZ Stadium
Pacific Nations Cup
  Nigel Owens
nbcsg

USA Men's National Team XVs defeat Samoa on penalty kick at fulltime

SUVA, FIJ. - For the second time in history, the USA Men's National Team XVs have defeated Samoa 13-10 on a dramatic penalty kick, this time slotted by AJ MacGinty at fulltime, in the second round of Pacific Nations Cup 2019. 

MacGinty accounted for all 13 U.S. points, as the United States remained defensively sharp in the second half, spreading its width and covering gaps to counter a continuous Samoan attack. The first half told a different story, however, as the Eagles held the monopoly on possession and only allowed Samoa inside their 22 on two occasions. 

"It was a really tight contest and I'm not sure either team deserved to lose that. It was an eighty-minute arm wrestle. We'll take a lot of lessons out of this match and hopefully learn from them next week," said Captain Blaine Scully, describing the relentless nature of both teams through all eighty minutes of the game.  

Where penalties were Samoa's enemy in the first half, they equally became a frustration for the U.S. side in the second half. But the difference was pure defensive grit. 

"It was a very tough match. I thought Samoa were very good today, they put us under a huge amount of pressure," said Head Coach Gary Gold. "Their defense was too good. Credit to our boys we defended very very well against a good Samoan side. We still have a lot of work to do, it's always nice to win but I think there's a lot of improvement today." 

Following a penalty kick by USA in the third minute, Alapati Leiua dashed through a small opening to put his side on top, 3-7. But the Eagles came back in the 20th minute when MacGinty cruised alongside a ruck -- five meters from the goal line -- to claim an offload from Ruben de Haas and run it in, 10-7. 

Samoa employed their most physical defense at the tryline, winning turnovers on two occasions to stop the U.S. attack just a couple meters shy of dotting down. While the United States were sharp, clinical and dominant in the first half, Samoa put up a strong fight in the next.

A penalty count stacked against the Eagles paired with fresh energy from Samoan replacements to give the opposition many opportunities with ball in hand. But still, Samoa struggled to put their attack on the front foot as an impressive defensive effort by the USA created a toxic combination for momentum. 

With eight minutes to spare,  Tony Lamborn won a turnover but conceded the ball back to Samoa who kicked for points to tie it up. 

And as the final few minutes became the most impactful moments of the game, the U.S. found a spark to ignite a meaningful attack. Wrestling for space inside five meters, the Eagles continued to drive, phase after phase, until Samoa drew a penalty at fulltime.

Where Captain Blaine Scully signaled for the posts, AJ MacGinty teed up his kick, took a shot and captured the 13-10 victory.

The win marks the second time in history that the USA Men's National Team XVs have beaten Samoa. In another nailbiter last November, Will Hooley slotted a similar penalty kick at fulltime with Eagles then-down by two points. 

Only one round remains in the Pacific Nations Cup 2019 where the United States men will face Japan on Saturday, August 10 at 12:30 AM ET on NBC Sports Gold. Now with 9 points in the standings following today's victory, the Men's Eagles have every opportunity to win their first PNC title.

Tries | Aj MacGinty
Penalties | Aj MacGinty (2)
Conversions | Aj MacGinty  


USA Men's National Team XVs Roster

STARTERS 
1. Chance Wenglewski
2. James Hilterbrand
3. Paul Mullen
4. Ben Landry
5. Greg Peterson
6. Tony Lamborn
7. John Quill
8. Cam Dolan
9. Ruben de Haas
10. Aj MacGinty 
11. Martin Iosefo
12. Paul Lasike
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Blaine Scully (C)
15. Will Hooley 

REPLACEMENTS 
44' | Ben Pinkelman for Cam Dolan 
57' | David Ainu'u for Chance Wenglewski 
65' | Nate Augspurger for Martin Iosefo
TBA | Paddy Ryan for Paul Mullen 
71' | Nate Brakeley for Ben Landry
75' | Dylan Fawsitt for James Hilterbrand


USA MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM XVS STAFF

General Manager | Dave Hodges
Head Coach | Gary Gold
Assistant Coach, Attack | Greg McWilliams
Assistant Coach, Set Piece | Shawn Pittman
Assistant Coach, Defense | Jaque Fourie
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Huw Bevan
Performance Analyst | Jimmy Harrison
Assistant S&C and Analyst | Tom Kindley
Team Doctor | Mark Sakr
Team Doctor | Sam Akhavan
Head Athletic Trainer | Kevin Ng
Athletic Trainer | Kristen Douhan
Massage Therapist | Daliah Hurwitz
Team Manager | Chris Hanson
Assistant Team Manager | Mark Drown


Pacific Nations Cup 2019 Schedule & Results

vs  Canada | 47-19 (W)
vs  Samoa | 13-10 (W) 

vs Japan | Sat, Aug 10
KO 12:30 AM ET
NBC Sports Gold